Concerned Citizen: A Dark Israeli Comedy About Gentrification

A progressive man seeks to improve his Tel Aviv neighborhood and it does not go as one might hope in the dark comedy, Concerned Citizen.

Ben (Shlomi Bertonov) means well in his attempts to improve his gritty neighborhood in Tel Aviv. After all, he’s an enlightened liberal 35-year-old gay man living in Tel Aviv. Living in an apartment with boyfriend Raz (Ariel Wolf), the two are also hoping to become parents with the aid of a surrogate. But in the meantime, Ben is just in way over his head. It starts out as a simple gesture of planting a tree. But soon, Eritrean refugees are hanging out and leaning against the tree. Personally, I would probably not call the police if I witnessed someone leaning against a newly planted tree. Not Ben. Ben acts ridiculously absurd and calls the police on them. He only ends up biting himself in the tuchas because they brutally arrest the immigrant. You want to talk about police brutality? I watched it on DVD and still couldn’t believe it.

I mean, being upset about someone leaning against a tree is probably not something to call the police about. One thing leads to another but what transpires during the arrest is just awful. Ben feels guilty for what happened and he lets the officer know it. Oh, does he ever! And again, violence ensues with even more police brutality, only the officer harms Ben rather than the immigrants. This time, Raz is filming while Ben is beaten by an officer. That’s because filmmaker Idan Haguel delivers a satire showing how even well-meaning people have their own prejudices. Ben might not realize that he has prejudices but they come out during the films’s brief 81-minute run time. Haguel–who did witness police brutality earlier–chooses to depict LGBTQ people as victimizers rather than the victims.

Haguel does something rather fascinating with the film’s casting. Never mind the fact that he films Concerned Citizen in his old apartment. The actors playing Ben and Raz are a real-life couple. Obviously, he didn’t need to cast an actual couple but definitely going for gay actors rather than cishet actors is the way to go in this instance. As for the Eritrean refugees, they belonged to the (Holot) Sands) Theater Group. I don’t want to get into the politics of it all but they fled persecution in both Eritrea and Sudan. In the meantime, there are active riots in the street leading to both injuries and deaths. The clashes are probably getting lost in the news with everything that’s taken place since October 7. Even though the film is a satire, Haguel is not making fun of the serious issues, only the perception.

Concerned Citizen might only have an 81-minute runtime but the length is just enough for everything filmmaker Idan Haguel is seeking to accomplish in this dark comedy satire. Even though it touches on serious issues in its own way, it is a very different LGBTQ narrative playing out on the screen.

DIRECTOR/SCREENWRITER: Idan Haguel
CAST: Shlomi Bertonov, Ariel Wolf

Greenwich Entertainment released Concerned Citizen on June 2, 2023. Grade: 3/5

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Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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